September 21 is the official first day of fall! Once the season begins leaves start to change to beautiful shades of yellow and orange, the weather starts to cool down from the triple digits, and apples and pumpkins begin to fill the market. For these reasons, we think fall is the best season of all with the weather at perfect temperatures and every possible food combination using pumpkin at our fingertips.
As we enter this ideal season, how can families get outside and enjoy it? Fitness expert and CEO of Step It Up with Steph, Stephanie Mansour, shares some of her favorite activities for families to enjoy this fall.
The first family activity is pumpkin picking. Before Halloween, lots of families head to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin perfect for carving. Stephanie recommends turning the hunt into a workout. “Show your kids how to do squats while holding the pumpkin, or make an obstacle course out of the pumpkins you and your family pick out,” she said. “Have the kids jump over the pumpkins and run around them!”
After your family has picked out the perfect gourd, head home for carving. And after you’ve sculpted your best designs, set the seeds aside and teach your kids how to roast them. Stephanie recommends rinsing the seeds, spreading them out onto a cookie sheet lined with tin foil, sprinkling them with salt, and then baking them in a 400-degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes. This is yet another fall activity that provides a fun and healthy way to bond with your children.
Besides pumpkin-themed fall activities, try raking leaves with your family. “Rake leaves into a pile and see who can jump over the highest pile of leaves, or create an obstacle course with the leaves,” said Stephanie. Not only are your kids getting yard work done, but they’re participating in a physical activity as well.
Another activity that incorporates exercise is playing sports. Playing football outside, for instance, is something the whole family can take part in. “Learn different football routes or plays,” said Stephanie. “Then, watch your favorite team on TV and call out what route or play the pros are doing! This will make game-day much more kid-friendly and create more family time.”
If your brood is the apple-loving type, go to the cider mill and pick out apples. “Learn how to make cider, then bring the apples home and make your own cider on the stove,” said Stephanie. In addition to making your own hot beverage, do a taste testing of homemade cider vs. store bought! We’re sure the fresh, homemade cider will be the clear winner.
The last fall family activity Stephanie suggests is educating your kids about Halloween candy, which is often filled with sugar and high fructose corn syrup and can do serious harm to the body. Instead of going straight for the Tootsie Rolls and Snickers bars, Stephanie suggests presenting other healthier options.
“Compare the backs of candy wrappers to the backs of healthy nuts or bag of fruit,” she said. “Show your kids how many ingredients are in candy compared to healthy snacks, and also how many grams of protein and sugar there are.” Letting your kids see the difference in ingredients is more likely to stick than just telling them “no” when they’ve had one too many Blow Pops.
In short, the fall season is a wonderful time to enjoy the weather and all the festivities it brings. Watch the leaves change, smell the crisp clean air, and get out there and enjoy these activities with your family before the weather turns too cold!
Stephanie Mansour, CEO of Step It Up with Steph, is a nationally known health and fitness expert and body image and confidence coach. She’s a reality TV trainer on “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is,” helping her client lose 80-plus lbs in 12 weeks. She combines yoga, Pilates, personal training, and body image coaching for a holistic approach to health and fitness, and her no diets/no guilt mentality is changing the way women everywhere view food and exercise.